Author: Keizer et al
Parents with children between 0 and 4 years of age often make use of the huisartsenpost (HAP), and not always for medically necessary complaints. We investigated a number of strategies to influence their healthcare choices in such a way that the workload and costs at the HAP do not become too high.
In the period 2013-2015, we sent questionnaires to all registered families with children between 0 and 4 years old in four general practitioner (GP) practices in the eastern Netherlands (n = 797). We described four written case studies – two urgent and two non-urgent – in random combination with four “question management strategies”: an appointment with their own GP the next morning, a personal contribution, online advice, and insight into costs. Each family received a questionnaire with three cases containing a strategy and one reference case without a strategy. Using logistic regression analysis, we tested to what extent the added strategies influenced the respondents’ choices.
We received 377 questionnaires (response rate 47.3%). “Online advice” led to a more adequate healthcare choice for both non-urgent (OR 0.26; 95% CI 0.11 to 0.58) and urgent cases (OR 0.16; 95% CI 0.08 to 0.32). “Insight into costs” (OR 0.59; 95% CI 0.38 to 0.92) and “appointment the next morning” (OR 0.57; 95% CI 0.34 to 0.97) also improved healthcare choices, but only for urgent cases. “Personal contribution” had no effect on healthcare choices.
Online advice has the potential to reduce unnecessary use of the huisartenpost and promote an adequate healthcare choice in urgent situations. The use of validated online tools should be encouraged.